The coronavirus pandemic is not over – repeat, it’s not over! – but we’re two years old and now changing from those wild early days of spring and summer 2020, and that’s long enough to give some perspective. For so many people, the pandemic has changed their lives and their careers Deus Ex machine shock, the aftershocks of which are still being felt in real time in society. We continue to see it again and again here in the Build-Outs 2022 season, in stories like this, where a successful coffee cart focused on event catering saw its business evaporate overnight. . What came next looks like something bigger, maybe even something beautiful, born out of the shifting uncertainty of an unknown time. A bit of beauty from chaos. This is Circle Coffee in Topeka, Kansas.
The Build-Outs of Coffee 2022 are presented by drops, donaand Mill City Coffee Roasters. Build-Outs of Coffee 2022 is sponsored by Pacific Barista Series, Acaia, La Marzocco and Marco beverage systems.
As told to Sprudge by David Vincent.
For those who don’t know, can you tell us about your company?
We have been operating our coffee cart for two and a half years, mainly hosting private events. When COVID hit all of our events disappeared so we had to find another use for the cart. We started showing up outside our friends’ houses and at the downtown farmers market. We live a few blocks from an old laundromat building that’s been vacant for three or four years, and we always walk by and dream of someone else opening a shop inside. As public demand for our cafe grew, many more doors began to open for us to open a store and we finally signed a lease in October 2021 and started remodeling the entire building.
Can you tell us a bit more about the new space?
Like most laundromats, it thankfully has a huge picture window in the front, which is one of the main things that drew us to the space. We also loved the white cinder block walls and concrete floor, both of which we kept. The building is right in the middle of several neighborhoods and two blocks from Washburn University. I don’t think we could have dropped it in a better place if we wanted to.
With the glossy white walls and black accents, we didn’t want the space to feel too modern or outdated, so we added pops of color throughout the space with paint streaks, colored grout, and some furniture. fun. We wanted our space to feel like the neighborhood living room and backyard, and that had a big influence on where our money was spent. We poured a 1,000 square foot patio on the east end of the building and added a garage door to connect the two spaces. We added grass and bike racks on the other side of the patio, so our neighbors could ride to our space. We also added a bakery at the east end of the building, which my sister Ruth operates as pastry chef.
What is your approach to coffee?
Our goal is to serve really great drinks in a timely manner with a smiley face. We want to bring experiences to people through our products and services that make people feel valued and proud to live here in Topeka. We have a fairly simple menu and don’t plan to expand it much. Simplicity is always more if you have confidence in what you offer and do not remain complacent with creativity.
Machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We are a multi-roaster coffee, with Cat & Cloud as our anchor roaster. We are currently presenting brandy wine and Sey Cafe as our guest roasters for the next few months. We are truly proud to be able to bring world-class coffees to our community. Our overall approach to coffee is to deliver premium experiences without being that snobbish boutique that makes you stupid for not knowing a caramel macchiato doesn’t exist.
Our approach with equipment was to add technology and convenience where we felt it didn’t take away from the artistry and quality of what we were serving. We want our team to have time to interact with customers and less time distracted by the equipment they are using. We have a group of two La Marzocco Linea PB AV for the espresso, a Touch Tone 03 for automatic payments, and a Ground Control Cyclops for drip, cold brew and espresso concentrate.
A big workflow decision we made at the end of the game was to separate our hot and iced drink stations, and with the addition of the Ground Control brewer we are able to brew espresso concentrate and adding it to drums with nitrogen gas to prevent oxidation. With the espresso on tap, we are able to prepare each iced drink in a separate station, and we use iPads with KDS to send commands to the espresso machine or keg station. We have three more rotating taps, with our current lineup including Nitro Cold Brew, Sparkling Hibiscus Berry Lemonade and Oat Milk Latte with Passion Fruit Curry Spice. Separate drink stations increase our efficiency and our customers spend less time waiting for drinks and more time with the people they came here with.
How does your project consider sustainability?
We plan to only partner with roasters that offer transparency in their dealings with the farmers they source from. We use alternative milks that taste really good to encourage people to take this route. We also compost our coffee grounds.
What is your target opening date/month?
We opened on June 30, 2022.
Do you work with craftsmen, architects and/or creatives that you would like to quote?
All of the wooden pieces in our space were made by my brother Tim, who just started his business (Community Woodworking Co.) here in Topeka. The attention to detail in all of his work is second to none and it has taken our space to another level.
Contact us today and submit your coffee for the Build-Outs of Coffee 2022 feature series.
Explore every last Build-Out over the past decade in our archive.